Fletcher needs to run

I wrote this flash today at the caravan park in Selsey, where I was visiting my brother, nephew and niece.   Caravan parks have a strange intimacy and an eye-avoiding agreement that no-one admits to what they see and hear.

Fletcher needs to run

The caravan park is bacon-scented – drifting into day with the first tick of bicycle wheels.  Dogs squabbling.  Sawing and strimmers.  The van step is covered in fuzzy-felt green – a dry, warm play-grass that soothes my feet.  I sip my tea and look at the cryptic crossword again – stuck after nine clues.  But, you know, some people never get anything cryptic at all.

A tremulous phone conversation ripples out from the van next-door.

“Tell him to just sell it.  I’ve had enough.”

I can hear the tears coming up her throat and then they seem to pour out of the open window I’m watching.

“I’ll talk to you later.”

A hand is pink behind the nets.  The window is slammed.

Across the roadway, under the poplars, a small boy is lying, face down, on the grass.  He wraps his arms around his head.  He’s four.  Maybe five.

“Fletcher!  Fletcher!  What’s the matter?  Get up!”

He writhes, kicks, waits.  She advances – heavy-footed – and he springs up.  Pistonning legs over cropped grass.

“Fletcher!  Fletcher!  No!  That’s too far!”

He veers around the next box in the line to escape.  I can see it like a vapour trail from his little back – Fletcher needs to run.


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